A 1400-page military document, seen by a British newspaper, exposes how the Pentagon controls hundreds of Hollywood films and TV shows in which it dictates what can and cannot be shown on screen – and it usually happens when the writers get too close to the truth.
Movies such as Iron Man, Terminator, Transformers, and Superman have all had involvement from the Pentagon due to the films depicting just a bit too much truth for the governments liking.
Last year, President Barack Obama appeared to be joking when he said the US military was working on its own Iron Man suit for troops.
But the first prototypes of a super-strong exoskeleton being developed for chiefs by universities and technology players were delivered last June.
The kit – called a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) – will not fly or bristle with missiles like the one worn by Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in the Iron Man film series but will boast impressive features.
TALOS, set for a roll-out in 2018, is likely to have gun and shock protection, and be fire-resistant.
Experts say it will also have integrated communications, body and external sensors, and a head-up display to give battle information graphics in real time along with night vision.
To keep Pentagon chiefs happy, some Hollywood producers have also turned villains into heroes, cut central characters, changed politically sensitive settings – or added military rescue scenes to movies.
Having altered scripts to accommodate Pentagon requests, many have in exchange gained inexpensive access to military locations, vehicles and gear they need to make their films.
A 1,400-page military document seen by the Sunday People exposes Pentagon involvement in hundreds of films and TV shows – changes to which pre-2002 are not classified.
One switch involved re-working a character in 2001 war film Black Hawk Down, who was a known paedophile, to remove the stain from his character.
The US military has also a keen interest in the science behind the Transformers series. And the papers reveal the military has even had input on TV programmes including American Idol, Hawaii Five-0 and Cupcake Wars.
Simon Fuller’s American Idol was one of hundreds of shows since 2010 that sought military approval as it featured a contestant from the armed forces.
Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef also had to get permission to feature an army cook for a welcome home meal for troops.
Even British shows have been affected. Channel 5’s Extraordinary Dogs needed Pentagon consent to feature dogs from the US army parachuting.
The files were released by the Hollywood-based Department of Defense Entertainment Liaison Office following a Freedom of Information request by Bath University’s Dr Matthew Alford.
Before 2002, the Pentagon’s input on films and TV shows was made public – but documents are now held in a private library collection.
Dr Alford said: “It is shocking that the Pentagon is poking its nose into a mind-boggling range of TV shows. Many have nothing to do with the military.
“It is alarming that the Pentagon keeps secret the changes it makes, leaving it open to accusations that it’s waging a pernicious PR campaign to recruit TV-addict kids and rewrite history.”
The US military has previously been accused of grounding plans for a sequel to Top Gun – because they feared the 1986 Tom Cruise hit had fostered a culture of sexual abuse in the US Navy.